Blockade continues at Muskrat Falls main gate, protesters let workers out but not in
Nalcor cancels day shift, says workers being financially affected by protest
By Anna Delaney, CBC News, October 20, 2016
Protesters are letting workers at the controversial Muskrat Falls project leave the site Thursday, but are not letting them enter.
Nalcor announced early Thursday morning the day shift at the hydroelectric project in central Labrador was cancelled due to the protesters preventing workers access to the site.
According to Nalcor, 685 people from the Upper Lake Melville region work at the site and are being financially affected by the protest.
A spokesperson from Nalcor also said some workers were stranded at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay airport Wednesday night as a result of the blockade.
On Thursday afternoon a new lock was placed on the gate to Muskrat Falls. CBC was told it belongs to the “land protectors of Labrador.”
Some protesters opposing the flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir refer to themselves as land protectors.
Mayor Snook speaks out
On Wednesday, the provincial government ordered Nalcor to remove more forest cover at the Muskrat Falls reservoir.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook said the announcement isn’t enough to satisfy people in his community.
“The announcement yesterday was done in St. John’s, and that just added to the frustration,” he said.
The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been supporting the protest. Snook told CBC Radio’s Labrador Morning he visited the protest site Wednesday night to see what was going on and to listen to what people had to say.
“One thing that I certainly witnessed and was very clear, people were united in their frustration for this project and this is frustration that’s been building for over a decade of advocacy for changes to this project,” he said.
“They were united in their grief for this project. No matter which way you look at it, they’re going to create that dam and a lot of people are upset.
According to Snook, protesters aren’t interested in mitigation.
“A lot of these people don’t want it to happen, period, and whatever happens, really, it’s an environmental trauma that’s going on there,” he said.
“It’s at the 11th hour and frankly people are still not satisfied.”
Snook said he has written Premier Dwight Ball, who is the minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, to invite him to a town hall meeting to hear firsthand how frustrated people are.
“I hope what happened yesterday is a shift, that there’s going to be some more adjustments by the province. We’re here and we’re ready to meet as soon as possible.”
Change, but don’t cancel
The Nunatsiavut government on Thursday repeated its demand for full clearing of vegetation and soil from the Muskrat Falls reservoir, before any flooding takes place.
But Nunatsiavut’s Natural Resources Minister Daryl Shiwalk said the group, which represents Labrador’s Inuit, does not want the project stopped.
“We’ve never come out with a position against the project,” he told CBC Radio’s CrossTalk.
“It’s not about being against people working. We feel people need to work. It’s about regulators stepping up and doing the right thing.”
It’s too late to make things right once water is in the reservoir, he said.
“You can’t pull the plug and drain this thing. Once it’s flooded, the methylmercury will start to increase.”
6th day of protest
Thursday marks the sixth continuous day of protests at the Muskrat Falls site. The protesters and the Nunatsiavut government are concerned that methylmercury from the project site could contaminate the Churchill River and food sources in the region.
Nine people were arrested on Monday morning after the protesters were given a court order Sunday evening.